European Parliament Approves Airline Emissions Caps, Trades
European Parliament today officially endorsed a rule to include airlines in the EU Emissions Trading System beginning in 2012. The measure gained 640 votes in favor and 30 against, with 20 parliament members absent.
Applicable to all flights touching down or originating in Europe beginning in January 2012, the cap-and-trade plan lowers the cap for the aviation sector to 97 percent of the average annual CO2 emissions airlines contributed to the atmosphere between 2004 and 2006 for the first year, and 95 percent of those emissions for 2013. The EU plans to auction 15 percent of the airlines' emission allowances.
Though the legislation said auction revenues "should" be used to fund aircraft research, clean transport options, climate change mitigation and forestation efforts, member states can determine the specific use of auction revenues.
The International Air Transport Association called the "should" clause the "weakest possible language. There is no assurance that any of the money will go to environmental programs."
IATA's opposition goes beyond that. Director general and CEO Giovanni Bisignani blasted the cap-and-trade approach, claiming that it "will only invite international legal battles," while adding new expenses to travel.
Bisignani argued that "reducing emissions is more effective than charging for them," noting airlines already are on that track to cope with astounding fuel bills. "To survive the oil crisis, airlines are already doing everything possible to save fuel and reduce emissions, so there is no additional incentive," he said. "Already, over 130 countries have vowed to oppose it, and it puts 7.6 million aviation-related European jobs at risk with higher costs."